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There could be an interesting twist to the already-compelling tale of who is going to acquire Hulu. Because it looks as though money-is-no-object Google is playing hardball in its attempts to secure the longform content it has long desired.

Google Outmaneuvers Rival Hulu Bidders

The bids for Hulu are apparently all in and being mulled over by the company and its content partners. Four made the final cut, with three – Amazon, Yahoo, and the Dish Network – all hitting the $1.5 billion – $2 billion range for Hulu, Hulu Plus, and guaranteed rights to the content exclusively for two years. And then there is Google, which, according to AllThingsD, has rather more ambitious plans in mind.

What these ambitious plans actually are remains unclear, but sources are saying this is “a different acquisition, on a larger scale.” Which could mean a number of different things.

It isn’t even clear as to whether Google has entered a formal bid or has merely made a ballsy approach with an unwritten check in hand. Which may mean the whole process slows down from this point as Hulu decides what is in its best interests. Which may not be to take Google’s money, no matter how generous the offer.


YouTube + Hulu = Deadly Combination

The reason for this is that were Google to secure Hulu it would own a huge chunk of the online video sector. It already has YouTube, the most popular video destination on the Web, and adding Hulu and its longform content to its lineup would be a massive boon for the search giant.

Google knows that premium content is key, and that is where Hulu comes in. However, Hulu is owned (for the most part) by the same TV networks that are running scared of Google and its approach to offering up content for free and making money from advertising. Which could see them put a kibosh on any potential deal.

Can you imagine how powerful Google would become with both YouTube and Hulu under its wing? Too powerful for the networks, I’d suggest.

Conclusions

The Next Web predicts a Google/Hulu tie-up by Christmas, but I disagree. I think Hulu’s owners are more likely to take the safe option and sell to one of the other bidders. Unless, of course, these mysterious big plans are advantageous to the networks…

By , Updated: Tuesday, September 6, 9:37 AM

If possible, the story of the lost iPhone of 2011 is even weirder than last year’s lost phone tale.

The San Francisco Police Department released a press statement Saturday saying that some of its officers escorted Apple employees to search the home of a man the SFWeeklyidentified as Sergio Calderon, to look for the lost iPhone prototype. The phone was reportedly left in a San Francisco bar, a strange echo of the 2010 incident that led to tech blog Gizmodo’s exclusive reports on the iPhone 4 before its release.

CNET broke the story of the lost iPhone prototype last week. But the report brought up several questions, namely why the SFPD had no record of an investigation into Apple’s search for the device. The story got even stranger when the SFWeekly said that it found Calderon and that he spun a bizarre tale about six men with badges coming to his home to search for the device. The newspaper reported at Calderon said that two of the men entered his home to look for the phone and raised questions about Calderon’s immigration status. One of the men gave Calderon his contact information, and that number was traced to Apple security officer Anthony Colon, the paper said.

Because SFPD said it had no record of the search or the investigation, some had speculated that Apple security members had searched the house posing as police officers, which would be a crime.

Saturday’s statement from the SFPD fills in some of the details and explains why there’s no official paperwork on the matter:

After speaking with Apple representatives, we were given information which helped us determine what occurred. It was discovered that Apple employees called Mission Police station directly, wanting assistance in tracking down a lost item. Apple had tracked the lost item to a house located in the 500 block of Anderson Street. Because the address was in the Ingleside Police district Apple employees were referred to Officers in the Ingleside district. Four SFPD Officers accompanied Apple employees to the Anderson street home. The two Apple employees met with the resident and then went into the house to look for the lost item. The Apple employees did not find the lost item and left the house. The Apple employees did not want to make an official report of the lost item.

 

Apple has not released a statement on the CNET story and could not immediately be reached for comment on the police statement.

Then, of course, there’s the unresolved issue of the device itself. Right now, it appears there’s no lead on what the device actually is, where it might be or how and why it was traced to Calderon’s home. The original CNET report indicated that the device had possibly been sold on Craigslist.

Walmart has a huge hit on its hands with Vudu, the online movie store it acquired in 2010. For a company that has so far failed to utilize the Internet in the way it should have, this should count as a big victory. One which the company must hope is the first of many.

Walmart Takes On Vudu

Walmart acquired Vudu early in 2010 after previously trying and failing to launch its own movie and TV download offering. In a deal thought to be worth around $100 million Vudu became a subsidiary of the U.S.-based uber-retailer.

Around a year later Walmart pushed Vudu to the browser for the first time, complementing its availability across a huge range of Internet-connected devices (more than 300 at last count).

At the end of July Vudu was integrated into the main Walmart website in a big, bad way in an attempt to make it more mainstream. All of which appears to have paid off massively. So much so that Vudu can now be considered a big player.


Market Share Increase

According to IHS Screen Digest Research, Vudu’s market share under Walmart’s ownership has increased substantially, rising from one percent in the first half of 2010 to 5.3 percent in the first half of 2011. This has seen it jump above both Amazon on 4.2 percent and the Playstation Store on 4.4 percent.

No surprise which company and service is at number one, and by quite a margin. Apple iTunes currently has a 65.8 percent market share, and that only seems to be increasing. More surprising, possibly, is Microsoft’s Zune video marketplace at number two with a 16.2 percent market share, although now seems to be dwindling.

Conclusions

This is great news for Walmart, a bricks-and-mortar business which has struggled to make the transition to the Web. Vudu represents a huge success in this regard. I wonder how many of its new-found customers have sought alternatives after Netflix upped its prices?


Journalists Should Join Google+ to Understand What Comes Next;


This month's Carnival of Journalism, a site that I've organized where bloggers can convene to all write about the same topic, was hosted by Kathy Gill, a social media consultant and senior lecturer at the University of Washington, who seized on the new social network that is Google+.

Still in its infancy, Google+ has been the topic of many-a-tech blog posts. As a former tech writer, I love and hate this stuff. Sometimes I want to slap Mashable right in the "http" and tell them to never do another "Top X Ways [name your industry professionals] Can Use [new social-networking tool]." If you are curious though, here are the top five ways journalists can use Google+, courtesy of Mashable.

Equally, I want to avoid speculation about Google+ vs. Facebook or Twitter, etc. It's a valid conversation, but there is already plenty of it. If a Facebook executive has a sneeze that sounds like "aww-choogle-phluss," the tech press is all over it. I personally am not a fan of Facebook and welcome my Google+ overlords. I do have a post in me about privacy, Silicon Valley speculation, etc. -- but I don't want to add my voice to that already loud chorus.

Instead, I want to write about Google+ in terms of everyday average use -- both how journalists use the Internet and how everyday average people use the Internet (assuming the latter is slightly different).

Sure enough, 10,000 Words (the Mashable of journalism blogging) recently did a post on the top 10 ways journalists use the Internet. This is the ENTIRE Internet mind you -- but the results of the study are revealing. According to research, journalists use the Internet for:

1. Reading news
2. Searching for news sources/story ideas
3. Social networking
4. Micro-blogging
5. Blogging
6. Watching webinars/webcasts
7. Watching YouTube
8. Exploring Wikis
9. Producing/listening to podcasts
10. Social bookmarking

By rough estimate, I'd say six of those activities can be encapsulated by Google+ in a way they can't be on Facebook (partly because Facebook looks like a user-interface designer puked on a screen). One could argue that with Google Hangouts you can add another one or two activities to the count above, and considering the network is still young, who knows where it could go?

While I won't venture what the top 10 Internet activities are for non-journalists, I suspect the majority of them are social in nature, including email (Gmail having lots of penetration) and research (Google again). Now we can start to see some real Epic 2014 scariness/potential.

The real lesson here is that journalists on Google+ should keep in mind how they are using the platform and how the public might be using the platform. The two aren't necessarily the same, and all too often, we think the rest of the world uses web technology the same way we do. Whenever I want to be humbled, I watch a member of my family use the computer and think to myself -- ignorance is bliss.

The reason to be on Google+ isn't because it's the newest, hottest, sexiest thing. That might be a good reason to be on it as an individual (hard to separate) but not why you should be on it as a journalist. You should be on these sites to understand how people are communicating and the vocabulary of this communication. Friendster informed MySpace which informed Facebook which informed Google+.

If you ignore these sites, you will fail to understand how a growing portion of the population deals with the flow of information, and inevitably how more people will deal with this flow in the future. The best journalists will be problem solvers on the social web.

If you are a journalist your JOB is to understand and insert yourself into the flow of information. That's what Google+ represents, the flow of information.

A version of this article first appeared on my blog, DigiDave.

Posted at 08:40 AM ET, 08/25/2011

Steve Jobs resigns: Reactions to the end of an era

 


Steve Jobs is stepping down as Apple CEO. Apple has named COO Tim Cook as his successor. (Justin Sullivan - Getty Images)Steve Jobs has resigned as Apple’s CEO, a position he’s held since his return to the company in 1997, though he will stay on as chairman. Admired and hated by the tech industry, Jobs, 56, has rebuilt the company he co-founded in 1976, turning it from the brink of bankruptcy into a company responsible for the greatest hits in personal technology: the Mac, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad.

Apple’s stock took a hit after-hours trading on the news that Jobs is stepping down as CEO, down about 5 percent before the markets open Thursday. But analysts have said that Apple will survive and that they have faith in new CEO Tim Cook, who has effectively been running the company while Jobs has been on medical leave.

According to a report from Bloomberg, Jobs will remain on the board of directors at the Walt Disney Corp.

Here’s what people are saying about Jobs’s announcement this morning:

In their words —

Steve Wozniak to Bloomberg: When he returned to Apple, I wasn’t really sure how that would work out, and I’ve just been totally blown away. I feel that I’m one of the luckiest people in the world to have been able to know this incredibly great person and to have been a friend of his.

Google’s Vic Gundrota: Since I was 11 years old and fell in love with an Apple II, I have dozens of stories to tell about Apple products. They have been a part of my life for decades. Even when I worked for 15 years for Bill Gates at Microsoft, I had a huge admiration for Steve and what Apple had produced.

Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg:

Most people are lucky if they can change the world in one important way, but Jobs, in multiple stages of his business career, changed global technology, media and lifestyles in multiple ways on multiple occasions.

He did it because he was willing to take big risks on new ideas, and not be satisfied with small innovations fed by market research. He also insisted on high quality and had the guts to leave out features others found essential and to kill technologies, like the floppy drive and the removable battery, he decided were no longer needed. And he has been a brilliant marketer, personally passionate about his products.

Robert Scoble: Today’s news fills me with emotion. The kind you can't really explain. It's wrapped up in a lifetime of living in Silicon Valley and it isn't really explainable.

Love him or hate him, Steve Jobs changed my world in major ways. Not many people can say that. Which is why I’m feeling this strange emotion right now that I can’t explain to you in words or actions.

Daring Fireball’s Jon Gruber: Jobs’s greatest creation isn’t any Apple product. It is Apple itself.

And in his —

To the Apple Board of Directors and the Apple Community:

I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.

I hereby resign as CEO of Apple. I would like to serve, if the Board sees fit, as Chairman of the Board, director and Apple employee.

As far as my successor goes, I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple.

I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it. And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role.

I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you.

Steve